1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the only DVD/blu-ray version of Mose in Egitto currently available - although there is also a DVD of a La Scala production of Moise et Pharaon - the extended french adaptation that Rossini made for Paris.
This Pesaro performance took place in a sports arena rather than a theatre. There is therefore no traditional proscenium, but a number of performance spaces behind and either side of the orchestra, and also some of the action takes place out amongst the audience. The production is somewhat hyper-active, with business going on in most of the spaces most of the time. I suspect that this would have been very effective live in the arena, but makes it extremely challenging to film. Mostly we get long-shots or close-ups of the "main" action, with occasional quick cuts to the other stuff, but it's often hard to follow just what's happening. The production is deliberately controversial, with many evocations of the present-day Middle East - although much of it is (again, deliberately) jumbled up. Moses is (sort-of) dressed as Osama Bin Laden, and Mr & Mrs Pharaoh as the King & Queen of Jordan. The Hebrews are depicted as terrorists (or freedom fighters, depending on your point of view) and the West Bank Barrier is there to keep them OUT of the Promised Land. It's all a bit confusing at first, but if you're prepared to open your mind, it works.
Musically it's tremendous. Conductor Roberto Abbado keeps it moving along nicely. The orchestra and choral work are excellent. Dimitry Korchak as Pharaoh's vile brat of a son Osiride gets a bit strained at the top, but otherwise all the cast are superb. Handsome and hunky Riccardo Zanellato makes a convincingly charismatic leader of Moses - sonorous and commanding. Sonia Ganassi is especially fine as poor deluded Elcia.
Sound and pictures are both superb. Technical details: 24-bit LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
In conclusion, this is an excellent performance of Mose in Egitto which I doubt will be equalled or surpassed anytime soon. If you're prepared to accept the controversial modern production, it's a very enjoyable experience.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Director Graham Vick and set designer Stuart Nunn, as well as the administration team of the Pesaro Rossini Opera Festival, go to great pains in interviews on the 'Making Of' extra feature included on this release to emphasise that their 2011 production of Rossini's Mosè in Egitto doesn't take sides and offers no solutions, but rather strives to present a balanced account of the impact of conflict and oppression on a population, specifically in a modern-day Middle East context. Balanced it may be, but that doesn't mean that this production plays it safe in any way. Far from it. Vick depicts Rossini's Biblical epic in terms of suicide bombers, terrorists, torture, self-immolation and - perhaps most controversially - styling Moses as an Osama Bin Laden figure, wielding a Kalashnikov and stirring up a Holy War against their oppressors through inflammatory video recordings.
Without contradicting the intent of a single word of the original libretto here, Graham Vick shows that there is a case for opera not to be entirely subservient to the words alone, but that it should also take into account an interpretation of what the music is expressing. Rossini's score isn't set in any specific period, but is abstractly aligned rather to timeless human feelings and emotions. As a director, Vick clearly wants the production of Rossini's great work to express those sentiments in a meaningful way to a modern-day audience, and the extraordinarily powerful nature of its presentation here clearly justifies that approach. There are no 'star turns' here in an opera that opens without an Overture but instead has a choral 'Plague of Darkness' lament that the director stages powerfully by having blood-stained Arabs walking through the audience, holding out photographs of friends and relatives lost in the latest bombardment/plague carried out on the word of Moses in retribution for the enslavement of the Hebrew people by the Egyptian Pharaoh, plastering the pictures and messages on walls in front of the orchestra pit. It's a meaningful image that brings the power of Rossini's writing home, and the same approach is used throughout, consistently and often to quite striking effect, the final scenes in particular making a unforgettable impression that underlines the relevance and importance of making the work say something about the world today.
I say "orchestra pit", but it's clear - and not just from the informal dress of the musicians - that the orchestra are also very much a part of the action, particularly in this production were the music carries much more than the libretto does alone. If there are any doubts about the efficacy of the treatment, the powerhouse performance of the Orchestra Teatro Comunale di Bologna will quickly put any doubts to rest. Directed by Roberto Abbado this is a sparkling, sensitive performance that captures the verve, rhythm and lyrical lightness of Rossini's versatile arrangements. The singers in most of the principal roles on the Egyptian side aren't heavy-weights by any means, but singers like Alex Esposito, Dmitri Korchak and Olga Senderskaya are all lyrically qualified and well-suited to the roles of Faraone, Osiride and Amaltea. There's a little more personality and weight required however for the parts of Mosè and Elcia, both in terms of their vocal demands and the necessity of having the strength of personality to bring together the political and human elements that combine in the drama, and those demands are more than capably met by Riccardo Zanellato and Sonia Ganassi. Excellent and noteworthy performances from Yijie Shi (Aronne/Aaron), Enea Scala (High Priest Mambre) and Chiara Amarù (Amenofi) really contribute to the overall power and quality of the work and the performance as a whole.
Set in a basketball venue rather than a typical opera house, the 2011 Pesaro Mosè in Egitto isn't pretty to look at, but it's not meant to be. It does make some controversial references, but there's nothing here that can't be justified as a genuine reflection of human nature and how people live in the world today. That might not be what you expect to see in an opera performance of Moses in Egypt, but the brilliance of the production here is that it works both ways, drawing inspiration from Rossini's remarkable score, finding a meaningful modern way to bring its themes to life, while at the same time injecting its ancient Biblical story with a heavy dose of reality. It's a testimony to Rossini's brilliant writing and Andrea Leone Tottola's poetic libretto that, musically and dramatically, Mosè in Egitto is more than capable of bearing it. If it's the intention of the Rossini Opera Festival to look afresh are both familiar and rarely performed works by the composer in order to reevaluate qualities and strengths that are clearly there but which have been buried under decades of operatic mannerisms, then this kind of production achieves that most impressively. Stripped right back to its expressive power, this 2011 production of Mosè in Egitto is consequently something of a revelation.
As with all the recent Pesaro Rossini releases, that revelation extends to being able to see and hear these performance presented so well in High Definition on Blu-ray. Outstanding image quality in full-HD 1080/60i, detailed and beautifully toned high resolution audio mixes only enhance the efforts of the performers. Mainly due to the unconventional nature of the venue, radio mics are used, presumably only for recording purposes, but the mixing is well done and comes across naturally here. As well as a booklet that covers the production and gives a synopsis, there is a Cast Gallery and a 25-minute long behind-the-scenes 'Making Of' with interviews that explain the intentions behind the concept very well. The BD is region-free, with subtitles in English, French and German.